Chicago Moves To Restrict Where E-cigarettes Are Smoked
By Chuck Sudo in News on Jan 14, 2014 5:35PM
Smokers of electronic cigarettes in Chicago will soon have to join their tobacco-burning brethren outdoors if they want to enjoy a puff after a City Council committee approved an ordinance championed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to restrict the oral wizard’s wands as tobacco products.
The measure, which passed by a 15-to-5 vote of both the City Council Health and Finance Committees, would place e-cigs behind the counters of retail establishments; grant the city the power to license e-cigarette dealers; ban the sale of e-cigs to minors and prevent adults from breaking them out and puffing on them indoors under the Clean Indoor Air Act. The ordinance would bring Chicago in line with a statewide measure passed last year.
The vote wasn’t without a fair share of debate and lobbying from the mayor. Some aldermen were hesitant to vote in favor of the ordinance, claiming there isn’t enough scientific proof the water vapor emitted from e-cigarettes is dangerous like tobacco smoke. Ald. Rey Colon (35th) said, “You’re lumping it together in the same category even though you don’t really have any proof that it has any harm. You’re saying ‘We’re going to regulate first and ask questions later.’ ” Ald. Will Burns (4th), who co-sponsored the ordinance, said e-cigarettes “should be treated like tobacco cigarettes. They have no place in our restaurants. They have no place in our offices. If people want to enjoy them, they can do that in the privacy of their own homes. They can do it on the public way. There’s no prohibition against that. We’re not banning it.”
An earlier version of the ordinance had aldermen arguing because it would have prevented e-cigarettes with nicotine cartridges from being used indoors. Aldermen said it would be virtually impossible to tell an e-cig with a nicotine cartridge from one without. The ordinance moves to the full City Council for a vote Wednesday.